NASHUA’S CHIEF OF POLICE, Michael Carignan, has become a leader to watch as he brings a modern and compassionate approach to the profession of law enforcement.

His style is proactive, and officer wellness is something his department is addressing. Suicide is one of those areas that first responders have often remained silent about, and continues to be a major problem for departments across the country.

It all hit home last September when Capt. Jonathan Lehto, a 20-year veteran of the Nashua Police Department, took his life.

Carignan believed that it was time to talk about the heartbreaking turn of events, and he received the Lehto family’s blessing to go public.

“First responders deal with tremendous stress and negativity on a daily basis,” Carignan tells me.

He believes that taking steps early on and providing officers with training and access to mental health support have tremendous value for the men and women wearing the uniform.

On Tuesday, Police Chief Carignan attended President Trump’s State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C., as the guest of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). He was both honored and excited to be there, as his initiatives in Nashua have put the spotlight on law enforcement suicide and the need for the nation to recognize its epidemic proportion.

In the meantime, Carignan’s department is struggling with a different issue called manpower.

“We’re short of police officers. We’re down 21,” he said.

If you have what it takes, then consider the Police Officer Exam (no fee) scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 15, at 8 a.m, at the Nashua Police Department. Visit http://nashuapd.com/ to fill out the application.

I know that manpower is a priority over canine-power, but Manchester police have recently added an adorable comfort dog to their ranks, a 13-week-old black lab rescue pup. I’m hoping that Nashua police could do the same.

Manchester Detective Justin Breton, the dog’s handler, is excited about the Queen City’s program, telling the media that, “We’re going to be able to increase the mental health support services that we’re able to provide to our officers as well as start to further those relationships with the community and victims that are reaching out to us for help.”

I asked Chief Carignan about adding a comfort dog to the force. I learned that he’s the proud owner of Lexi, a 13-year-old terrier mix and a tenacious hunter that keeps pesky rodents off the family’s property. Like many, he understands how these amazing animals can lift the human spirit.

“I’m not opposed,” he says. “I’ll have to call Carlo (Manchester Police Chief Capano) and find out more.”

Make no bones about it; I think a comfort dog would make a great investment for our community.

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at jtania512@gmail.com.